Plants which derive some of their nutrients by trapping and consuming animals or protozoa - typically insects and other arthropods. "Carnivorous plants" is a general description and the ability has evolved independently many times. In examples of convergent evolution, the same general trap design has also often evolved multiple times.

Carnivorous plants tend to grow where soils are thin or poor especially with low nitrogen levels (eg. acidic peat bogs). Carnivorous plants can be found around the world, from the tropics to boreal regions.

True carnivorous plants will attract & trap prey, produce digestive enzymes, and absorb the resulting available nutrients. There are over 300 "proto-carnivorous" plants which exhibit some but not all of these characteristics.

The true carnivorous plants have the following trap styles:

  • Pitcher plants: A "pit fall" trap typically with nectar to attract insects, hairs and/or slippery sides to make entry one-way, and digestive juices at the base. Examples: Sarracenia (Trumpet Pitcher), Darlingtonia, and Nepenthes (Vine Pitcher)
  • Flypaper: Sticky mucilage traps the insect. Plant leaf often then folds around the insect. Examples: Drosera (sundews), Pinguicula (butterwort)
  • Snap Traps: A mouse trap / bear trap, sudden mechanical trap. Examples: Dionaea (Venus Fly Trap), Aldrovanda (waterwheel plant)
  • Bladder traps: Uses a bladder with a partial vacuum and hinged door. Aquatic creatures such as Daphnia inadvertently nudge the door, and are let in. Only found in Utricularia (bladderworts).
  • Lobster-pot traps: These have a convoluted design, making entry easy but exit difficult. Found in Genlisea corkscrew plants. It can be argued that Darlingtonia and Nepenthes aristolochioides fit this category.

Most carnivorous plants are endangered and protected by local laws and CITES. Always buy such plants from reputable specialist nurseries. Plants propagated in "captivity" are healthier and less likely to carry disease or pests, and do not contribute to their extinction.

Use this tag for all questions about carnivorous plants. Also add tags for specific species or genera, as appropriate.

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